Why Vaccines Are an Investment in the Future

Article excerpt

GOVERNMENTS who prioritise the purchase of medicines and vaccines as a worthwhile and cost-effective public intervention are investing in the future of their country.

Last year, the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) reported that a child born in 1955 had an average life expectancy at birth of only 48 years, but by 2000 she or he could expect to live 66 years and globally, life expectancy is predicted to rise to 73 years by 2025.

Whereas the global child mortality rate stood at 77 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2000, by 2009 this figure had already decreased to 62.

In the first decade of the 21st century alone, an estimated 2.5 million deaths were prevented each year among children under the age of five through the use of measles, polio and diphtheria-tetanus pertussis vaccines.

Vaccines are particularly important because they protect the public from preventable disease, helping to save lives and prevent ill health, while minimising costs to the National Health Service.

Diseases, like polio and smallpox, have been eradicated and others, like measles and malaria, have become significantly less prevalent.

Earlier this year Wales saw a serious outbreak of measles in the Swansea community due to reduced "herd immunity", which was addressed by emergency vaccination clinics organised by several health boards.

Herd immunity describes the process which occurs when the vaccination of a significant portion of a population provides protection for those individuals who have not developed immunity or received vaccination. …